I don’t usually weigh in on cases outside Massachusetts, but the St. Paul’s Prep School rape trial in New Hampshire merits a few observations.
First, in the event that some people might think that, as a Boston Massachusetts sex crimes attorney, I’m going to dismiss all the allegations that have been made in this case, they’d be wrong. (At least one of those charges is likely statutory rape, since the alleged victim was 15 at the time of the alleged sexual encounter, which the defendant claims was consensual.) I think it’s fairly clear that, notwithstanding the press statements issued by administrators at this school denying that any kind of culture exists at the school that would promote sexual misconduct bewteen students, such a culture has existed. This culture, part of which appears exemplified by the “senior salute” ritual testified about in this trial, should be investigated by New Hampshire state authorities extensively – with the more important goal being the identification, firing, and prosecution of any and all school administrative personnel – teachers or otherwise – who knew of this culture and allowed it to continue. In my view as a Massachusetts rape defense lawyer, there are obvious parallels to the catholic clergy sex abuse scandals roiling the nation (and first uncovered in Boston.) I find any such professional school staffers, if it can be shown that they knew of this culture and allowed it to continue, to be equal in guilt to the bishops who knew what certain sexually abusive priests were doing, yet turned a blind eye to it.
But let’s get to the immediate allegations in this particular trial: The alleged victim, a 15 year-old girl, claims she was raped by then 18 year old Owne Labrie, the defendant. There’s several pieces of her story that don’t seem to make sense, but one in particular stands out: Under examination by Labrie’s attorney, she admitted that – after the encounter, Labrie and she communicated by email and texts, discussing birth control and even exchanging terms of endearment. One of those was a message in French that read, “Tes incroyable Toi”, meaning “You’re incredible.” The victim admitted under testimony that she messaged him back, writing “Et Tu“, meaning “You, too.”
That doesn’t exactly comport with the actions and words of someone who has just been raped. Let’s hold off on this for now, to see what the jury says. But regardless, the investigations in this case should not stop with this trial: They should proceed directly to the highest levels of this “elite” (read: “rich, connected, entitled”) New England prep school.